Category: Vietnamese – Casual
NamNam is probably the first vietnamese restaurant to have made it to multi-branch status. Owned by the Les Amis Group which owns other restaurants such as Peperoni Pizzeria and the newer brother to NamNam, Connam (or “Broken rice bowl”), NamNam is especially popular amongst the weekday lunch crowd – in part due to its accessible location, and in part due to its affordable set lunch.
252 North Bridge Road, #B1-46/47 Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103, 10 – 9.30PM daily (Multiple Branches)
Namnam is conveniently located at major shopping malls, and has spread its reach across Singapore with branches at Suntec City, Wheelock Place, Plaza Singapura, and even Resorts World Sentosa. Greens and browns feature strongly in the decor at Namnam, and it often jumps out because of its rustic vibe.
Damage: $ – $$
Lunch set meals are good value for money at $9.90 flat, and include a bowl of beef or chicken pho, a small plate of appetizer (which used to be the fresh southern rolls, but is now a salad), and a vietnamese coffee or lotus tea. At other times, the noodle dishes are about $10, with appetisers and sides going at about $5 – $6, which is still affordable especially when you’re eating about town.
To go: Possibly yes, but don’t expect consistency
I used to be a loyal fan of Namnam and went at least once a week for lunch when they first opened, but after a short while, as their business picked up, the standard dropped considerably. Service is eyebrow-raising at times, especially at the Raffles City branch, with service staff leading you to tables that are not yet vacated or swapping you about between different tables for no apparent reason at all, but I think that boils down to specific kanchiong (colloquial speak for someone who is over eager and tending to cause blunders as a result) staff rather than the entire team. I find Namnam to be either hit-or-miss, about 50-50 both ways, but I guess at the price point we couldn’t ask for too much.
A MORE DETAILED REVIEW
The atmosphere is pretty consistent across the NamNam branches – packed and cramped with tables just the width-of-the-spread-of-your-fingers apart, with hurrying staff carrying bowls of pho and others ushering customers from the queue to available seats, NamNam is a no frills, quick eats kind of place, with a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to service – but there’s no service charge so that’s fine.
The appetisers at NamNam have always been consistently good. The salad of crunchy pickled vegetables, slices of fish cake, fatty pork belly, tossed with crunchy peanuts and crispy shallots is full of intense, alert flavours. However, the pork tends to be very fatty, slivery and lacks taste, but the other parts of the salad is undoubtably good and perfect for prepping the palate for the rest of the meal.
The Sliced Beef Pho has sometimes been a hit – springy noodles with a slight bite, with thin, tender slices of beef – and at other times, a miss – noodles going way too soft and soggy probably from sitting in the broth for too long, and chewy tough beef with lots of hard tendon going through. When it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s bad, it’s bad. The only thing that’s really been consistent is the broth which always has a good depth of flavour and is sufficiently flavoured with thai aromatic herbs and spices.
NamNam is okay to go with familiar friends, but not a good place to chat about much because even if you’re quick with your meal, you can never seem to be quick enough. Service can be appalling – once I’d been at my meal for barely 20 minutes when a family suddenly appeared beside our table. The couple and their two children looked befuddled, and we too were confused by their presence. They told the waitress who’d led them there that we weren’t done yet, and she promptly waved a hand at us and decided, “no they’re finished”. On another occasion, I was halfway through my soup when a waitress came, just took the saucer of chilli and dropped it right into my soup. I looked up at her in shock, and she said “you’re done right?”- too late, soupwrecked. My visits dropped from weekly to once every few months, and now, when prompted for pho, I’d suggest we go to So.Pho instead.